and received a 2018 Service Award from MSLA.
Because I said, “Yes,” I have had fabulous opportunities and experiences.
My “yeses” have taken me on some fabulous state and national leadership journeys: serving on the MSLA Executive Board; being an representative to the AASL Affiliate Assembly; presenting at local, state, regional and national conferences; writing articles for journals and publications; and, serving on the Schneider Family Book Award Jury.
These opportunities all came out of building-based leadership experiences and the day-to-day work with students, staff, and parents where we serve the needs of these three distinct populations. It’s why we are drawn to this profession, we want to help others. So, inevitably, when someone asks us for something, we generally answer, “Yes.”
“Yes, I can find a book on polar bears.”
“Yes, I can find a book for you to teach empathy.”
“Yes, I can come into your classroom and introduce the electronic resources for the Civil Rights Movement unit.”
‘Yes, I can help reset your password.”
“Yes, I can be a guest reader for Pajama Night.”
“Yes, I can serve on the school council.”
“Yes, I know where we can go to get that information.”
“Yes, I would love to collaborate on a project.”
“Yes, I would like to serve on the principal advisory committee.”
Because I said, “Yes,” my leadership opportunities grew beyond my building.
My initial interest was in collaboration. I found teachers in my building that were willing to shift their schedules and co-plan and co-teach projects. This focus on curriculum and collaboration led to building-based and district-level presentations and committee work, which, in turn, led to presenting at conferences, which expanded my network of colleagues, which led to starting my blog. My blog led to advocacy, which led to serving on the MSLA board, which, in turn, led to serving as a representative to the AASL Affiliate Assembly. All of this shows how one thing leads to another and reminds me of that 1980’s Faberge organic shampoo advertisement, where good news multiplies as “they told two friends and they told two friends and they told two friends.” My leadership opportunities just kept multiplying in good ways.
Because I said, “Yes,” my network of colleagues expanded as did my content knowledge.
I was afraid to say yes to serving on the MSLA Executive Board, but am thankful that I did. It was an honor to work with such a talented and dedicated group of people. I gained a greater understanding of school library work across our state and around the country. I learned much and expanded my professional learning network along the way. It was always interesting to talk with state and national colleagues and hear about both the challenges and successes in their areas of the state and the country. Their work informed my work.
Because I said, “Yes,” I found a way to adapt to changing roles and find new leadership opportunities.
Fifteen years into this career, saying yes looks different now. The types of leadership roles that I have taken on has shifted as the district’s organization and focus has shifted. Instructional Technology Specialists (a certification I hold and a position I held in my district for a few years) took over much of the classroom technology integration. Library teachers have also been taken out of much of the delivery of professional development workshops for teachers. I was starting to feel discouraged when a new area of leadership arose: my district adopted a social and emotional learning model and started to train teachers in the Responsive Classroom approach to teaching and learning. I was drawn to this approach and sent an enthusiastic “yes!” when my principal asked if I would like to take the course. Much like my Faberge advertisement example above, this “yes” led me to becoming the leader of our Responsive School Team and the liaison to the District Responsive School Team; leadership roles for which I organized meetings, created agendas, and helped designed professional development. It was almost full circle to where I had started back in 2004.
Because I said, “Yes,” I am on a new journey.
I don’t know where this new focus of my work will take me, but I am excited about the journey. Maybe I will connect at the state or national level with other school librarians running a Responsive School Library program. Maybe I will submit a conference proposal for AASL. We never know where saying “yes” will take us.
For people in our profession, saying yes to students, teachers, and families is the easy part. It’s what we do. Saying “yes” to state and national leadership opportunities can be scary and seem daunting, but just think of it as serving another population. It’s still the same idea, just on a bigger scale. I promise you, It’s well worth your time and energy. You never know where it will take you or who you will meet along the way.